May the Fourth be with you, and also more testing.

As of May 4, the Truckee/North Shore community has a new option for COVID-19 testing at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach. Placer and Nevada counties coordinated the facility after California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on April 22 that an additional 80 disease testing sites would be implemented across the state.

The new location can perform up to 132 tests per day, and is a second option for the region to Tahoe Forest Health System’s drive-thru testing clinic — both available by appointment only. Yet the criteria for testing at the new site will make it easier to qualify for a test. 

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TESTING ROYALTY: Kings Beach is one of many new COVID-19 testing locations across the state of California — a governor-led effort to provide more resources during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Wade Snider/Moonshine Ink

Those interested in making an appointment for the Kings Beach site should visit the COVID testing website or call (888) 634-1123 during business hours.

To date, North Tahoe-area residents have been limited in the ability to receive a test — only if someone was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms severe enough to be hospitalized or if that person was a healthcare worker would the individual be able to be tested. Placer County health officer and public health director Dr. Aimee Sisson said the Kings Beach location provides more flexibility.

“People with mild symptoms will now be encouraged to get tested,” she said in a recent Moonshine Ink Tahoe Talks conversation. “And in fact, we’re going to even start testing some asymptomatic people who are at high risk. Healthcare workers, for example —  we’ll now be able to do screening of them in addition to testing everybody who has symptoms.”

Nevada County, too, is encouraging all residents with symptoms consistent with the disease to seek treatment.

The California Department of Public Health has a lot to do with that expanded eligibility for COVID-19 testing. OptumServe (the federal government health services side of Optum, a leading health services innovation company), which manages the Kings Beach site, will test anyone who experiences symptoms of the disease, including uninsured, underinsured, undocumented, and homeless indviduals. Those with medical insurance will have their company billed; those without insurance may still utilize the testing site, and their tests will be covered by the state.

The Department of Public Health retains a testing hierarchy as basic guidance:

  • Priority 1 includes the original top tier: hospitalized patients and healthcare workers showing symptoms, as well as persons in high risk settings like nursing homes and correctional facilities.
  • Priority 2 allows screening of such asymptomatic people as residents in congregate living facilities and healthcare workers; symptomatic persons in first responder, law enforcement, and congregate living facilities; and those over 65 years old or with underlying medical conditions.
  • Priority 3 suggests testing for symptomatic people working in essential positions like utility workers, food supply workers, and other public employees.
  • Priority 4 would include all low-risk symptomatic people and surveillance testing of asymptomatic persons.

The governor’s allotment for new testing sites also created a Grass Valley testing location for Eastern Nevada County residents (also through OptumServe) and a Northwest Reno drive-thru facility at the St. Mary’s Urgent Clinic (6255 Sharlands Ave.), which can provide up to 200 tests per day.

 

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